News digest 21 March 2013

News digest 21 March 2013

21 March 2013

The top story in all the papers is George Osborne’s budget. Having spoken – and coughed – for almost an hour the overall response is middling. The Express backs the budget, the Sun calls it a flatlining budget while even the Telegraph is scathing. The FT’s Martin Wolf calls it ‘shrewd on politics, but dismal economics’. Labour leader Ed Miliband – noting that the chancellor had issued his first tweet on budget morning - summed up the chief architect of the government’s economic plans in 140 characters: “Growth down, borrowing up, families hit, and millionaires laughing all the way to the bank #downgradedchancellor” while Unite general secretary Len McCluskey called it: “A budget for the few by the few that attacks the many. The worst chancellor in British history has gone further by giving big business another tax cut while staff caring for the sick get pay cuts … nurses, police and public servants take a pay hit, while corporations and millionaires are allowed to duck their tax duties to the nation. Borrowing is up, growth is halved again and the chancellor is missing his debt targets. His litany of failures has left Britain hamstrung.” With unemployment also rising yesterday for the first time in months and young jobless also up Unite is continuing to call for the national minimum wage to be raised by £1 and for the government to stop the senseless plan to give millionaires a £40,000 tax break in just two weeks time. Don’t hold your breath.

The main features of the budget were:

Economic growth is halved with forecast of just 0.6 per cent this year (1.8 in 2014 and 2.3 in 2015)
Public sector net debt will fall by 2017/18 (but borrowing rising to £114 billion this year)

Debt as a share of GDP to increase from 75.9 per cent in 2012-13 to 85.6 per cent in 2016-17

Bank of England to work to help UK's economic growth (well someone has to)

£3 billion a year extra pledged for road, rail and infrastructure projects (but only from 2015)

Departmental budgets cut by 1 per cent in each of next two years (schools/NHS protected)

Public sector pay rise to be capped at 1 per cent and progression pay to be limited

Single flat-rate pension of £144 a week brought forward a year to 2016

First £2,000 to be taken off all employers' national insurance bills

Corporation tax to be cut by 1 per cent to 20 per cent in 2015

Income tax threshold to be £10,000 by next year

20 per cent tax relief on childcare (up to £6,000) from 2015

Planned 3p fuel duty rise scrapped

Beer duty cut by 1p a pint (but wine, cider, cigarettes and spirits rise)

The real test of any budget for ordinary people is whether you are better or worse off, the answer is in the main worse off. Osborne fails the crucial 'pound in your pocket' challenge with his cuts in direct taxes offset by rises in indirect taxes and the loss of many tax credits and benefits, it seems unless you are a millionaire in a £2 million plus mansion there are hardly any crumbs from the part time chancellor’s table. Time for plan B…

 Morning Star

 Daily Mirror



  • Budget boost for millions (p1)
  • £130 billion pledge to bankroll mortgages (p2-7)
  • Barclays ‘buries’ £40 million payout (p13) – Len McCluskey quoted
  • Cyprus banks stay shut (p23)
  • Bosses hail tax cuts (p51)
  • Airlines attack passenger duty (p51)
  • Greggs to roll out takeaways (p54)
  • Smiths warning (p54)


 Times (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Osborne bets the house to kickstart ailing economy (p1)


  • The drown your sorrows budget (p1/4-7)
  • Bumper bonuses for Barclays fat cats (p1)
  • Headteachers join attack on Gove’s reforms (p11)
  • Fed to keep pumping cash into US economy (p51)
  • King outvoted on QE (p54)
  • Sole bidder for HMV (p54)



 FT (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Budget (p1-21)
  • Shrewd on the politics but dismal economics – Martin Wolf (p20)
  • Osborne pitches for the strivers – Janan Ganesh (p21)
  • Medvedev hits at EU over Cyprus (p27)
  • Jobless rise dents labour market (p28)
  • Airlines on course for profit growth (p39)
  • Lufthansa grounds 500 flights (p39)
  • Brewers look to Mexico (p40)
  • Wet weather damps Greggs (p42)

 Edited by Mik Sabiers

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